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Biden to honour Malaysia’s Michelle Yeoh, 18 others, with Medal of Freedom

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Malaysia’s Michelle Yeoh is among the honorees set to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom from US President Joe Biden this week.

The honorees list plays special homage to “firsts” in their field, including the Everything Everywhere All at Once actress Michelle Yeoh, who was the first Asian to win the Academy Award for Best Actress; Ellen Ochoa, the first Hispanic woman in space; and Jim Thorpe, the versatile athlete who became the first Native American to win an Olympic gold medal in 1912.

Biden will extend the highest US civilian award to 19 people, including Team USA swimmer Katie Ledecky, the assassinated civil rights leader Medgar Evers and television host Phil Donahue.

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Malaysians rejoice as Michelle Yeoh wins her first Oscar and makes history

Malaysians rejoice as Michelle Yeoh wins her first Oscar and makes history

The awards will be handed out at the White House on Friday.

Biden also included some key political allies in the Democratic Party, from Representative Jim Clyburn, who rescued his 2020 presidential primary bid, to Nancy Pelosi, who shepherded his legislative agenda through Congress as House of Representatives speaker until last year.

Also included are several one-time presidential candidates, former Senator Elizabeth Dole, former Vice-President Al Gore, one-time Secretary of State John Kerry and the previous New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

“After winning the popular vote, he accepted the outcome of a disputed presidential election for the sake of our unity,” the White House wrote of Gore’s concession to George W. Bush in the 2000 election, a jab at ex-president Donald Trump, who has never conceded his 2020 loss to Biden.

US President Joe Biden will hand out the Presidential Medal of Freedom to 19 recipients on Friday. Photo: Bloomberg

Bloomberg, a billionaire businessman who strayed from the Republican Party he once called home, may become an important financial backer of the president’s 2024 re-election campaign.

Biden will also honour Father Greg Boyle, a Catholic priest who founded the gang intervention programme Homeboy Industries; Opal Lee, an activist who pushed for Juneteenth to be a holiday marking the end of slavery in the United States; Senator Frank Lautenberg, a consumer safety advocate; astrophysicist Jane Rigby; United Farm Workers president Teresa Romero; LGBT advocate Judy Shepard; and Clarence B. Jones, who helped draft Dr. Martin Luther King, Jnr’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

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